Whole-body vibration machines may not be one of those hipster fitness gimmicks after all. At least, that’s what a group of scientists in the US believe.

Researchers at Augusta University in Georgia say they have conducted a study and found that using WBVs for just 20 minutes is equivalent to the muscle and bone health benefits of a 45 minute walk, as well as weight loss.

Well, at least for lab mice.

WBV machines allow people to stand, sit or lie on vibrating platforms. The vibrations in the machine transmit kinetic energy to the body, allowing muscles contract and relax multiple times during each second. Fans include celebrities and athletes like Cristiano Ronaldo.

Lab mice.
Scientists tested the effects on WBV on mice (Global Panorama/Flickr)

Researchers looked at three groups of five-week-old male mice for their study – one group consisted of normal mice, the second group was made up of those genetically unresponsive to leptin, the hormome that promotes feelings of fullness after eating, while the third did not perform any exercise whatsoever.

Both groups were assigned to sedentary, WBV or treadmill exercise conditions.

After a 12-week exercise program, the mice in the WBV group underwent 20 minutes of WBV at a frequency of 32 Hz with 0.5g acceleration each day.

Those in the treadmill group walked for 45 minutes daily at a slight incline.

Mice from all the groups were weighed weekly during the study.

Researchers found WBV was just as effective on mice.

Study author Meghan McGee-Lawrence said: “Our study is the first to show that whole-body vibration may be just as effective as exercise at combating some of the negative consequences of obesity and diabetes.

“While WBV did not fully address the defects in bone mass of the obese mice in our study, it did increase global bone formation, suggesting longer-term treatments could hold promise for preventing bone loss as well.”

Exercise research.
Researchers say 20 minutes of WBV is equivalent to the muscle and bone health benefits of a 45 minute walk (Ben Birchall/PA)

But scientists admit they can’t be certain of the benefits of WBV, unless it is tested on humans.

“These results are encouraging,” McGee-Lawrence added. “However, because our study was conducted in mice, this idea needs to be rigorously tested in humans to see if the results would be applicable to people.”

The study is published in the Endocrine Society’s journal Endocrinology.